3 Italian designers who made history
Gio Ponti, Gae Aulenti and Joe Colombo boast numerous collaborations with famous brands in the furniture sector, thanks to their iconic and inimitable products.
Italy is not only hosting the Salone del Mobile.Milan, an annual trade fair dedicated to interior design, but it is also the land of origin of some of the most influential and talented designers in the world. Many Italian architects and designers have contributed and still contribute to shaping the scene of modern and contemporary design through their creations and innovations.
Italian design is synonymous with refined style and good taste, but also with ostentation. Creating bold and unique designs often leads to the emergence of iconic and lasting products. Let's discover three of the greatest Italian designers and their innovative products!
Giovanni "Gio" Ponti (1891 - 1979)
Gio Ponti can be considered the father of Italian design. Gio Ponti has in fact found a way to express his creativity and personality, transmitting Italian culture into his creations. His works are extremely sensual, playful, ironic, colorful, well-made and expressive. The demonstration of all this? The right rug, like this one created for Amini, can become the focus of the entire room.
Carpet SORRENTO | Amini
Gio Ponti graduated from the Politecnico di Milano in 1921. Trained as an architect, his greatest success, at the peak of his career, was the Pirelli Tower, the second tallest skyscraper in Milan. Gio Ponti also founded the important Italian design magazine "Domus", for which he worked for many years. Another great success of Gio Ponti was certainly the collaboration with a great Italian brand like Molteni.
Armchair D.154.2 | Molteni&C
After years as a very successful and talented architect, Gio Ponti became interested in furniture design. During his career, he created an impressive number of lights and furniture, also collaborating with other designers and artists including Piero Fornasetti.
In the late 40s and 50s he created some of his most famous interior design pieces. His chairs, designed during that time, became extremely popular for their joyful style and modern sensuality. One of Ponti's most famous projects was the legendary Superleggera chair (Superlight chair), a wonderful symbol of modern design and traditional craftsmanship created for Cassina. Other works by Gio Ponti are the Continuum rattan chair designed for Bonacina in 1963 and the Dezza armchair created for Poltrona Frau in 1966.
Gaetana "Gae" Aulenti (1927 - 2012)
Gae Aulenti, the lady of modern design, graduated from the Politecnico di Milano in 1953. In a society and in a sector strictly dominated by men, Gae Aulenti was able to express her natural talent and became one of the most influential and famous architects and designer in post-war Italy. She was also art director of FontanaArte, a historic company founded by Gio Ponti and Luigi Fontana, wrote for Casabella, a famous Italian architecture and product design magazine, and designed the project for Piazzale Cadorna in Milan. His most famous projects include his collaboration for Martinelli Luce.
Table lamp PIPISTRELLO | Martinelli Luce
In the field of product design, it is indeed impossible not to mention his Pipistrello table lamp, inspired by Art Nouveau and produced by Martinelli Luce in 1965. Fifty years later it is still considered an iconic lamp, also exhibited at the MoMA in New York. The conical base of the lamp and the diffuser are reminiscent of the spread wings of a bat.
Gae Aulenti has received numerous prestigious awards during her career, including the special prize for the Culture of the Italian Republic, the Legion of Honor of the French Republic, the "Imperial Award" of the Japan Art Association for architecture and many others. His name and his legacy are honored in the heart of Milan with Piazza Gae Aulenti, which was inaugurated after his death in 2012.
Cesare "Joe" Colombo (1930 - 1971)
Joe Colombo is another Italian designer who has left his mark on the history of international product design, creating furniture and lighting that have become true icons of the Italian avant-garde movement. Only after his training at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and subsequently at the Politecnico, Joe Colombo went into the world of design and began to collaborate with famous international brands, including Flexform.
Chair TUBE | Flexform
In the 1950s, Joe Colombo became part of the Nuclear Movement, an avant-garde artistic movement founded by Enrico Baj and Sergio Dangelo. At the end of the 1950s, he abandoned painting and began to use the family factory as a laboratory for his experiments with innovative materials for the time such as fiberglass, ABS and polyethylene. Focusing mainly on industrial design, Joe Colombo has developed an interest in modularity and in particular in the concept of living systems, or futuristic modular systems, represented by large plastic boxes apparently containing everything a person could need: a bed, a kitchen, a bathroom and a storage room.
During his brief but prolific career, Joe Colombo created some iconic designs from the 1960s. The Elda armchair, created in 1963 for Longhi, is considered the first armchair in molded plastic (fiberglass).
Armchair ELDA | Longhi
Joe Colombo has collaborated with some of the most famous Italian brands such as Boffi, Kartell, Stilnovo, Alessi, Zanotta, Oluce and many others. His projects were characterized by round and bold shapes, using modern technologies to create new design solutions, almost futuristic.
Every product has a story, a project and a designer behind it. Discovering the history of these products certainly enriches the artistic and symbolic value.
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